Bahamas resort Sandals deaths: Authorities are carrying out autopsies on guests found dead. Here’s what we know

The pathologist “consented to do the autopsies” on Monday, Bahamas Police Commissioner Paul Rolle said, and more information will be provided as it becomes available.

Autopsy exams could help answer questions about the deaths of the three Americans – two from Tennessee and one from Florida – during an evening. A fourth American, the wife of the deceased Floridian, was flown to the nation’s capital of Nassau for treatment before being transferred to the United States.

No signs of trauma were found on the bodies, the Royal Bahamas Police said in a statement to CNN, and the circumstances are still under police investigation.

How did the situation unfold?

According to the police statement, authorities at the George Town Police Station received a call shortly after 9 a.m. Friday from staff saying an unconscious man had been found in one of the villas in the complex.

As they drove to the scene, police learned that an additional man and woman, both unresponsive, had been found in another villa on the property.

Police found a “Caucasian male lying unresponsively on the floor” in the first villa with no signs of trauma. A doctor pronounced him dead, police said. The woman who was hospitalized was found with him, Rolle said on Saturday.

In the second villa, they found a man “slumped against a wall in a bathroom, unresponsive”, and the woman was “found in a bedroom on a bed”, according to the police statement.

“Both showed signs of convulsion,” the statement said, and neither showed signs of trauma.

“The night before, they had all reported feeling unwell,” Rolle said, and “were seen by doctors.” They were treated at different times and had eaten at different places before, he said.

When asked at a press conference how long the guests may have been dead before they were discovered, Rolle said: “They were seen by the doctor the night before, and it should have been around 11 a.m., and they were discovered the next morning. So, we have the schedule… between 11 p.m. and 8:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.

Three people have been found dead at Sandals Emerald Bay Resort on the island of Great Exuma in the Bahamas.

Who are the victims ?

Husband Michael Phillips, 68, and wife Robbie Phillips, 65, have been identified by authorities as the Tennessee couple who died at the resort.
Vincent Paul Chiarella, 64, of Florida, was the third individual found deceased. His wife, Donnis, 65, has since been transferred from Nassau to Kendall Hospital in Miami and is in fair condition, according to Hospital Corporation of America East Florida spokeswoman Jennifer Guerrieri.
Police name Tennessee and Florida guests found dead at Sandals resort in Bahamas
Their son, Austin Chiarella, told ABC News that his mom “woke up and my dad was laying on the floor, and she couldn’t move. Her legs and her arms were swollen up and she couldn’t move and she shouted for someone to come in through the door.”

Donnis Chiarella told her son she fell ill on Thursday but after being released from a clinic she “thought she was fine,” according to ABC.

He said he was heartbroken over his father’s death. “My dad was everything to me,” he told ABC.

CNN’s efforts to reach Austin Chiarella were unsuccessful.

The Phillips’ daughter, Caroline Phillips Fortenberry, sent a statement to CNN on Monday.

“Our hearts are grieving and broken but full of hope,” she wrote. “We know that our Mom and Dad experience a fullness of joy in the presence of our Heavenly Father. We already miss them terribly. Our parents left a legacy of faith in Jesus and generously loved their family and friends.”

Authorities are working on plans to repatriate the bodies of the deceased, and arrangements have been made to return their belongings to their representatives in the United States, Rolle said.

Where is the investigation?

No foul play is suspected in Friday’s deaths, Bahamas Acting Prime Minister Chester Cooper said.

Rolle declined to answer specific questions from reporters on Monday about whether authorities were pursuing specific leads, saying only that several samples had been taken from the scene and that their forensic examination should help determine whether chemicals were present.

A Philadelphia lab is helping with toxicology exams working with Bahamian pathologists and results could be available within seven days, according to Rolle.

The Department of Environmental Health Services was still at the station Monday, Rolle said.

The US State Department said in a press release: “We are closely following local authorities’ investigation into the cause of death. We stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance.

Sandals Resorts said in a statement to CNN on Saturday, “Nothing is more important to Sandals Resorts than the safety of our guests,” and expressed “deep sadness” in confirming the deaths.

The resort was working to “support both the investigation as well as the families of the guests in any way possible,” but could not release further information “out of respect for the privacy of our guests,” according to the communicated.

Carlos Suarez, Caroll Alvarado, Sara Smart, Hira Humayun, Jason Hanna, Theresa Waldrop, Rebekah Riess, Eliott C. McLaughlin, Steve Almasy, Sarah Jorgensen and CNN’s Susannah Cullinane contributed to this report.


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